(Although I have been teaching and writing books and articles on this subject for years, the following is based on notes I took from a teaching conducted by Dutch Sheets, who did a superb job of simplifying this message about the Kingdom of God.)
I. Genesis 1:28 gives us two aspects of the Cultural Mandate that God gave humanity: Multiply the family and manage the planet
Multiply a Family for God
In Genesis, the King of the kingdom (kingdom stands for “king” and “domain,” so the scope of a king’s rule is a kingdom) added a family to his kingdom realm when He made us.
The family mandate is to expand God’s family by Him creating eternal human spirits. Humankind is called to create eternal spirits because we are the only ones made in God’s image that can supply Him with family members (Genesis 1:28).
Manage the Planet under God
“Dominion” in Genesis 1:28 is a translation of the Hebrew word “radah” which means to rule the earth; to manage the planet our home. Dominion is never over other human beings but over the created order. The New Testament equivalent for dominion is influence. We are called to lead other people by serving with the love and creativity of God (read John 13:1-20). He has given us an assignment for the earth; “the earth He has assigned to the Adamites” in literal Hebrew (Psalm 115:16).
We are called to manage this realm of the Kingdom: the earth. In other words, we are called to govern. This makes more sense to us in the USA because we don’t have a monarchy or a king. This is the dominion mandate. This is a part of the Kingdom of heaven, not a separate entity. It will be like heaven and operate under the government of heaven; we are the extension on the earth. This is why Jesus told us to pray in Luke 11: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
II. Two Great Commission passages correspond to and become the New Testament application of this original Cultural Mandate
Add to the family
The Great Commission passage found in Mark 16:15-20 corresponds to Genesis 1:28: bearing fruit, multiplying and replenishing the earth. In other words, add to the family of God through evangelism and preaching the whole gospel by getting people saved, healed, filled with the Spirit and delivered, and then release them to do the same.
Manage the planet by disciplining whole nations
The commission found in Matthew 28:19 was not about getting a family back, but to disciple nations, not disciple individual ethnics. (“Disciple” wasn’t a religious term anyway; a disciple was a student who studied under his or her teacher/master.) Nations should be run by kingdom principles. This is further explained by Jesus when He called His followers the ekklesia. Matthew 16:13-18 is the first mention of ekklesia in Scripture. Jesus put ekklesia in the context of the kingdom as He described war against the forces of darkness.
“Build” in Matthew 16 (in Greek: oikas) means to build a household or family; it’s the word for descendant and lineage. He wanted to rebuild the home and get the family back. The ekklesia is not a new concept, but a renewing of the Genesis mandate to manage the home. Ekklesia does mean assembly and congregation. But He didn’t mean He merely wants to build a congregation because the word ekklesia was used politically in the Greco-Roman world since 500 BC. When Rome conquered a region they would send in an ekklesia to rule under an apostle who was a general sent out to take new territory. The ekklesia was established in foreign regions to acculturate these cultures to Rome.
The “gates” in Matthew 16:18 were the political and societal centers of power that were taken over by Satan in each city. The purpose of the fivefold ministry was to fill up the earth and all things with the Lordship and Kingdom of Christ according to Ephesians 4:10-12. This means we have to redefine equipping God’s people for the work of the ministry to include not only ministering and expanding the family of God but also expanding the kingdom and managing the planet under God as His stewards. Satan, who was banished to earth, did temporarily succeed in taking over this part of the kingdom. Presently he is managing most of the planet with ungodly people and systems. Satan can’t create his own family so he attempts to steal people to lead away from God. The Fall resulted in us needing a reconstitution of our makeup.
Since the Fall we have been going through seasons of reconstituting things back to the way they ought to be (Acts 3:21). Second, we went from our original formation to the need for a reformation (Hebrews 9:10). “Reformation” comes from the root word ortho, like in orthopedic: to straighten something, like taking a broken bone and rectifying that which is damaged. So ekklesia is nothing new. It is a concept of reconstituting the created order under the second Adam so that we may bring the planet back under the rule and reign of Christ.
Satan is unable to overthrow or defeat Jesus. His only recourse to stop God’s plan is to mess with the people (the church) called to disciple the nations. So Satan placed the caregivers (the pastors) as the generals or leaders in the church. (The word “pastor” is only mentioned two times in the New Testament, yet it has become the dominant ministry gift for leaders in the church.) “Apostle” is used for the leaders of churches in the New Testament and were primarily spiritual leaders functioning as heavenly generals in the earth realm, conquering new territory for the kingdom of heaven. Satan stole from us the concept of an ekklesia. We became a care-oriented family that lost its call to disciple the nations and influence society beyond the four walls of church buildings.
THE WORLD WANTS US TO BE A FAMILY THAT MINDS ITS BUSINESS AND JUST STICKS TO HAVING NICE SUNDAY SERVICES. IT DOESN’T WANT US TO GET INVOLVED IN POLITICS, ECONOMICS, EDUCATION, SCIENCE, OR IN ANY PUBLIC LEADERSHIP ROLE!
Satan changed the meaning of the word ekklesia to the word church (kuriakon). Since AD 300 this term has been used to describe a meeting place. Kirche is the German word for church. Earthly kings don’t like the concept ekklesia. King James ordered his translators to change the word ekklesia in the New Testament to the word church. For example: In the Charismatic Pentecostal movements of the 20th century thousands came to Jesus. But long-term culturally we lost ground because we don’t understand ekklesia. So we gave away media, politics, government, etc. So now we are in a mess and we are trying to figure out how to fix this mess!
We have done a pretty good job of understanding that we are family, and we have built our congregations as families. But we have not done well with the concept of the ekklesia. We need our families to get closer together and continue to expand. But we need them to be strong relationally so they can be more effective in taking the lead as the salt of the earth and light of the world.
All Creation Longs for the Sons of God to Manage Planet Earth as Salt and Light
Adoption in the Bible does not refer to a person who was not biologically connected and brought into the family. Adoption in the Bible refers to a biological child who was brought into their full position in the family. This person is now ready to move into their full authority and carry on the family name (Isaiah 9:6). When we first come to Christ we are the (immature) children (teknon) of God (Romans 8:16). The mature sons (huios) are the ones who are led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14). Creation is waiting for the sons of God NOT the children (teknon) of God who are immature believers (Romans 8:19-23). When the sons of God are fully manifest then the world will operate the way it was always meant to be; it will rain when it is supposed to rain; the weather patterns will be what they are supposed to be, etc.
Family versus Ekklesia
Family, relational, and the body of Christ, the bride of Christ versus being warriors, soldiers, legislators.
Jesus is the elder brother and shepherd versus Jesus is King. (Sometimes it’s the Jesus who said “go and sin no more” but sometimes He kills Ananias and Sapphira.)
Primary Ministry Gifts Needed to Do This
We need pastors, evangelists and teachers.
We need apostles and prophets who act as bishops and generals to lead the congress of the kingdom on the earth. (If we don’t have the ekklesia then we are going to worship while they kill babies, like the church of Nazi Germany did when they sang while Jews were being led to the gas chambers.) The world doesn’t want us to be the ekklesia; they want us to be the oikas or the family of God. We are not only family members of the kingdom but we are also citizens of the kingdom. Family has to do with our rights. Kingdom has to do with our responsibility as the ekklesia.
We are not only sheep and farmers but we are also judges. We are priests but we are also kings. Kings picture authority downward; priests are those who function from the ground up. We are healers but we are also destroyers! We are ministers of the New Covenant but also legislators of the covenant. We are those who apply anointing oil for healing; but we are also to function as salt and light by preserving and enlightening the EARTH.
Son of Man versus Son of God
In church we influence the family mountain; we need to influence the other mountains of culture. We can increase family until He comes; we need to also increase the kingdom until He comes. Success for us is both. Have we done a good job in extending the culture of the kingdom in our regions? No!
Jesus Saves/Jesus Rules
Here we unite; here we divide and conquer.
Here we encourage; here we command.
When we function as an ekklesia then we are going to lead congregations that will listen to the leaders of the church the way the military does their generals.
In the church we minister; in the ekklesia we commission people.
In the church we save individuals; in the ekklesia we disciple nations.
In the church we protect our families; in the ekklesia we send them out into harm’s way.
In the church we cast out demons; in the ekklesia we dethrone demons from systems in society.
In the church the focus is care and relational; in the ekklesia the focus is assignment and task.
In the church serving is encouraged for families; in the ekklesia serving is mandatory for the King, not just for the congregation but for the dominion of the King and His kingdom.
In the church the truth is encouraged and love abounds; in the ekklesia the truth is mandatory to spread in every realm of society.
In the church individuality is encouraged; in the ekklesia the corporate body is encouraged.
(We must also ask ourselves how our congregations fit regionally with other congregations to affect our region.)
In the church we gather and assemble; in the ekklesia we disperse and send.
In the church happy, healthy family members is the goal; in the ekklesia training good soldiers to take the lead is the goal.
In the church the local congregation is emphasized; in the ekklesia the region is emphasized because we are called to shepherd whole communities not just congregations.
If we don’t get this we will have strong congregations but lose our culture!
In the church Jesus is our friend; in the ekklesia Jesus is our commander and King.
In the church love, compassion and the staff of the shepherd (Psalm 23) are emphasized; in the ekklesia the scepter to rule (Psalm 24) is emphasized.
Things needed to accomplish this
I. For the family part of the Cultural Mandate
1. We need to connect to the family of God through regular church attendance and supporting the church financially.
2. We need to be trained in the word of God through our Discipleship Design program and be restored, healed and delivered through encounters, personal prayer and life groups.
3. We need to be committed to regular personal prayer and Bible study.
4. We need to serve in the church and love one another in community.
5. We need to constantly add to God’s family by sharing the gospel with those who don’t have a relationship with God through Jesus His Son.
II. For the ekklesia part of the Cultural Mandate
1. We need to be equipped in the church and discover our primary calling and gifts, both natural and spiritual gifts.
2. We need to serve in our worldly secular jobs with excellence so we can be well respected and win people to Christ.
3. We need to use the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit to become change agents who transform our places of employment, businesses, neighborhoods and all our realms and relationships of influence.
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